Bospop 2011

July 8-10, 2011, Weert (NL)

The thirty-first edition of Bospop, the coziest pop and rock festival of Europe, was again a success as the weather was great, the audience were enthusiastic and most important: the music was excellent with bands like Foreigner, Journey, Joe Cocker, Texas, Roxette, Roger Hodgson, Greg Allman, Triggerfinger, Anouk, Thin Lizzy, Walter Trout, Riverside, Black Country Communion and last but not least Dream Theater. Expectations ran very high with this enormous musical diversity.

The first day kicked off with the rather unknown bands The 101's and The Resistance Plot before Italian rock diva Gianna Nanini hit the stage. However, the first interesting musical highlight of day one, were Foreigner. During an hour Mick Jones and his band mates played their hits. The songs really sounded fresh and had withstood the wear and tear of time. This is also due to the fact that current singer Kelly Hansen did a great job being enthusiastic and high-spirited; his voice is still strong. The lively audience sang along with songs like Cold As Ice, Hot Blooded, Jukebox Hero, Urgent and I Want To Know What Love Is. The hour went by much too fast actually...
Ron Wood
Next were The Faces featuring singer Mick Hucknall (Simply Red), but to me they were disappointing as the band never really got going. It was all a bit stiff, a bit awkward and the audience reacted rather modest; maybe because these songs are just too old... In my opinion the voice of Hucknall - which I normally like very much - didn't fit the music and therefore the music lacked a spark, although Ron Wood played the guitar rather well. Best song of the set was probably Maybe I'm Amazed written by Paul McCartney.
Precisely at 20:45 Journey, the best AOR-rock band ever, entered the stage. They performed a set I haven't heard for a long time. Schon, Cain, Valory, Castronovo and Pineda set the Bospop-stage on fire for more than an hour. Opening track Separate Ways was a bit of a surprise, but it was good to hear that song again. The 'new' vocalist Arnel Pineda did an excellent job throughout the set. When you closed your eyes it was as if good old Steve Perry was singing! The band also played a couple of songs from their new and amazing album Eclipse like the magical City Of Hope and Tantra. Of course people wanted to hear old classic Journey-tracks either which they delivered with Don't Stop Believin', Ask The Lonely, Stone In Love, the breathtaking Lights and Wheel In The Sky. After 75 minutes the people in the audience weren't satisfied yet, but they were treated to the encore Any Way You Want It. Journey came, saw and conquered the audience; this was one of the best shows on the Bospop-stage ever! Day one ended with Joe Cocker. His voice still is in good shape; his performance wasn't bad at all, but rather predictable with songs like Feelin' All right, Summer In The City, You Are So Beautiful and three covers of The Beatles ! For me this was too much retro rock and flower power material; I rather would have seen Journey as the headliner of day one!

Journey: Ross Valory Journey: Arnel Pineda

Due to personal circumstances I couldn't attend the second day, so let's continue with the third day which had a spectacular line-up. The first band that really shook the ground was Belgian band Triggerfinger. This hard rock trio is the perfect live band and right from the start the audience loved it, although the volume was a bit too harsh... All This Dancin' Around and Short Term Memory Love were the musical highlights of Ruben Block and Co. However, the drum solo at the end was a bit too retro for me! Next was Thin Lizzy, the magical twin guitar band from Ireland. Unfortunately this is not the Thin Lizzy from the early days; only Scott Gorham and Brian Downey are left from the original band members. Since John Sykes left two years ago the vocal parts are less good and the set list was very predictable: The Boys Are Back In Town, Emerald, Cowboy Song, Whiskey In The Jar. For me this was the most disappointing performance of Thin Lizzy ever and I personally would advise these guys to quit before they become a Spinal Tap performance! Black Country Communion was next; my expectations ran high as I truly love their second album that I already consider to be one of the best releases of 2011. Well, I wasn't disappointed as Glenn Hughes, Joe Bonamassa, Derek Sherinian and Jason Bonham gave a great performance! Glenn's voice is still superb and during Save Me, one of the best tracks of the set list, I actually got goosebumps. Other tracks that I really liked were Black Country, Beggarman, The Outsider and Man In The Middle. Bonamassa was 'allowed' to do one of his songs, namely the excellent blues rocker The Ballad Of John Henry. This spectacular performance ended with a wild and magical version of Deep Purple's Burn. At that time I was wondering if Dream Theater would exceed this performance of BCC.

Triggerfinger Thin Lizzy Black Country Communion

It was the first time I saw Dream Theater with new drummer Mike Mangini and to be honest, I wasn't impressed. I definitely prefer Mike Portnoy behind the drums! I found it a disappointing gig whatsoever, the volume was too loud and James LaBrie's voice again left a lot to be desired. They kicked off with Under A Glass Moon from Images And Words. I think they should have played another set list as most people in the audience didn't recognize songs like These Walls, Fatal Tragedy or Forsaken. The new song On The Backs Of Angels wasn't a big surprise either; I hope that the rest of the new material will be better. The highlights for me were Caught In A Web which is still a fantastic song, and The Count Of Tuscany, but as I've been to DT-concerts over forty times I wasn't really impressed. It's sad but true. As an encore we were treated to The Great Debate, one of my favourite songs from Six Degrees Of Inner Turbulence. I can't wait to hear A Dramatic Turn Of Events, the new album of DT as they still are the best contemporary prog metal band, but this time they were beaten by Black Country Communion. See you all next year!

Martien Koolen (edited by Peter Willemsen)

(Sorry, it wasn't allowed to take pictures during the Dream Theater gig)

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